Before I say one word let me mention that I know some of this information has been posted before and it may be old news to you. Let me also say that this is a completely new show and if you haven't seen it yet and want to be surprised then READ NO FURTHER! Oh - and before you ask - there is merchandise available for this tour. There is a gray T-shirt with the CD picture on the front, a baseball jersey that says Summer 1999, 2 posters of Driven By The Music (one signed and one not - the signed one will cost you $50 more than the unsigned one) the CD/video set (for $35 - guys it's cheaper to get it online) and the only tour book I saw looked like it was the same one she's had the last few years. But I have to admit I didn't examine it very closely. Ok - read on for the full report from AC show.......
Ok - you're still with me, so I guess you don't want to be surprised (or you can't resist temptation! LOL)
As always, I guess the best place to start is the beginning. I went to the Friday show with two of my very best friends (also Donna fans because ALL my friends have good taste! At least if they want to STAY my friends they do... LOL) As is the usual custom at Caesar's Palace, we were seated in the back half of the theater despite my not so subtle display of my fan club card, picture with Donna, Caesar's gambling card and a dead president or two. I asked very nicely if we could move up front because we were fan club members and I was told, "NO!" So much for my "diva" status! LOL So having checked my ego at the door ;-) we took our seats in the first row of the back half of the theater. A comedian named Louis Ramey opened the show - and guess what guys.... that's NOT the same guy who usually opens for Donna. For a change I couldn't recite along with the opening act too!!! Unfortunately though, while the comedian was funny - there were technical problems with his mike - enough problems to make me a little nervous about Donna's part of the show. I think I said a few times that I hoped they sorted the problems out before Donna came out!
But enough of the preliminary stuff - you guys want to know about the show. And what a show it was! The show opened with a white curtain that had Donna's name projected on it (and that's as close to the old screens as we ever got.....) The music starts slowly and you hear Donna reciting.... "Don't you know behind your eyes is a land that dwells in a sea of possibilities. Now close your eyes and you can sail on...." Then there is a short sung introduction that continues on from there. The curtain floats away (a beautiful effect!) and there is Donna on-stage alone singing I Will Go With You as a ballad in Italian.... but just for a few bars. The beat kicks in and one by one the members of the band pop up from the stage set. (also very effective) The back up singers come out and then Amanda and Brooklyn come out dancing. The song builds up and....the announcer introduces Donna and she kicks it into overdrive with the dance version of I Will Go With You! Donna was wearing a knee length green dress - the top of which was all sequined. And her hair was long and straight. (I know you guys always ask how Donna looked - so there you go! LOL)
That was followed by what seemed like a short version of I Feel Love, and then On The Radio. Now get this - Donna pulled three female audience members out of the crowd to sing back up for her. (Actually - that made me happy I was in the back! I am no singer and I don't want to have to prove that on-stage! LOL) Now I don't know if it was intentional or not, but I think their mike was off because I couldn't hear the women sing at all. Maybe they were using the comedian's mike? LOL For their efforts the women received copies of the new CD.
Next up was This Time I Know It's For Real, followed by My Life. Now usually when Donna does My Life, she explains that it's a song from the play and at that moment in the play the heroine asks god for the strength to go out on stage. Well this time, instead of explaining it - Donna just looked up to the sky and asked god to give her the strength to go on if she is meant to be on-stage. Then she started singing. My Life
was followed by another song from Ordinary Girl called Gotta Be Rich (or something like that.) She introduced it by saying how she was discovered in Germany and brought out to Holly-weird (her word). And once in Holly-weird, the powers that be sculpted her image - they told her to act rich, look like she's rich, etc. She then dove into Gotta Be Rich
which is a light hearted uptempo and definitely Broadway-friendly song about acting rich. After that Donna explained that she is working on Ordinary Girl and then she did If There Is Music There. She set it up pretty much the way she does on the Live & More video, but there was one interesting change. It seems that in the play this song will be a duet. So when Donna performed the song she's say "He says," and then she'd sing part of it, then she'd say "Then I say'" and she'd sing more. I have to admit I found the "He says" "I say" a bit distracting. I'd really rather hear the song done as a straight solo as she did it at Hammerstein, or Donna should get a partner and do it as a regular duet. (Hey is Michael Mallet available? I'd love to see him back - even as just stage decoration! LOL I can be so shallow sometimes!!) Where was I? (One mention of Michael mallet and I forget everything else..... LOL) Oh yes, the "he says", "I say" was a bit distracting, but even so, If There Is Music There is a fantastic song and it it DEFINITELY one of my favorites.
Donna left to change (black pantsuit with a long jacket) and the band kicked into Carry On. It's nice to see that one FINALLY added to the show. It's a nice live song, but the sound wasn't quite set up right for it because it was hard to hear Donna at times. That was followed by No More Tears
with Mary dueting with Donna. Can't say I missed Tina Arena at all...... ;-) (Ok ok, that was a dig! But I really do like the way Donna and Mary sing together - and if anyone has any ideas how to get Dara back......) Then with a crash of thunder and lightning, came MacArthur Park - the long version again! I LOVE it when Donna sings the whole thing... I always feel sort of cheated when she doesn't.
Ok brace yourselves - the next song was one Bruce wrote with Kathy Troccoli and Nathan DiGesare. It's an inspirational song called Different Road
and it is INCREDIBLE!!!! God I hope Donna records it someday!! I was so blown away by this one that I went right to CDNow and ordered Kathy Troccoli's CD just so I can have it. (I know it's gonna bug me that it's not Donna's voice on the CD - but I HAVE to have this song.) I was completely mesmerized while Donna sang. It's such a great song in and of itself - and it's such a great song for Donna. Donna and Bruce, if you read this - you guys hit a home run on this one!!!
After that Donna picked up the pace again with She Works Hard For The Money, followed by Bad Girls. And the interesting thing about
Bad Girls is that at one point she broke it down and went into a little bit of Love To Love You Baby. Some of you saw her do this on the
Today Show recently. So much for "never" doing Love To Love You
again. LOL Never say never..... Love To Love You was never one of my favorites (I know - that makes me some kind of heretic or something), but I have to admit that it makes a good addition to Bad Girls. Then came Hot Stuff and oops... for those of you into the visuals I forgot to mention a costume change. At this point of the show Donna is wearing a simple knee length black dress. (You have to understand that I'm more into the music than the clothes, so don't kill me if I forget to mention details about the costumes. Donna could come out in old ratty jeans for all I care as long as the songs are there.... Although if she did come out in old ratty jeans the shock would probably kill me!! LOL)
Next up was Love Is A Healer complete with the Gregorian chants. This song works really well live and if I'm not mistaken the live version is a bit longer than the studio version. (Which is fine by me because I thought the CD version was a bit too short.) And then of course after letting us scream for a short time Donna came out again to do Last Dance. (And she was wearing a long sequined dress at this point. I have pictures - I'll beg someone to scan them and maybe I'll post a few for you.) There's nothing much I can say about Last Dance that you don't already know - but usually when Donna finishes the song she walks off the stage - you see her walk off the stage. This time as she finished the song they lowered the curtain in front of her. And the show ended as it started - with a curtain with Donna's name projected on it.
And there you have it. That's the new show. Just a few notes to wrap this up. First of all - this was a casino show and surprisingly enough, the crowd was actually awake and into the show. That is VERY unusual for a casino crowd. I can't wait to see the show played out in front of real fans. The energy levels should be amazing!! And there was one other thing I noticed. This time there is no real "unplucked" ;-) section of the show. There are individual ballads and then Donna jumps right back into an uptempo song. In a way that's good because it does keep the energy levels up ( which is usually a VERY good idea at a casino) but on the other hand - the transition can be a bit jarring. In particular the jump from Different Road to
Hard For The Money bothered me a little bit. Now in the old show, most of the ballads were kept together and then Dim All the Lights
made a good transition from the slow stuff back to the fast stuff. I think that this show needs something like that - at least for the transition to
Hard For The Money. (And Donna doesn't even need to add Dim All The Lights to make that transition - rearranging a couple of songs would probably do it.) What else? The addition of Amanda and Brooklyn as background dancers is a good move - that should make the show appeal more to the MTV generation. On a scale of 1 to 10 I give the new show an 8.5 (It automatically lost half a point for being performed in a casino - mainly because the slot machines were not kind to me this time! LOL) On the whole - not bad for a show that was put together in only five days. (Yes I said FIVE days, heard that from Stan Moress himself! And I didn't see any cheat sheet taped to the floor either..... do I need to mention that I am VERY impressed?)